TIPOFF: 8 p.m. Thursday at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley. TV: CSNBA. Radio: 910-AM.
Cal fans saw a glimpse last Sunday of what freshman forward Christian Behrens can do. Coach Mike Montgomery is making no promises about how much we might see him again – including Thursday night against Arizona – but he, too, was encouraged.
Behrens played six productive minutes in the win over Stanford, scoring a basket on an end-to-end drive with the ball, then taking a charge on defense.
“Just the fact that he was able to make a basketball move in a game like that – sometimes you’d see kids and they’d stumble and fall because they were nervous. He made the play,” Montgomery said.
Behrens, a 6-foot-8 native of Maple Valley, Wash., has played sparingly this season after undergoing knee surgery last year as a high school senior, then tweaking his knee early this season.
In between, he had some good moments on Cal’s August trip to northern Europe, particularly showing his nose for the ball. “He’s got the ability to do some things that are a little unorthodox,” Montgomery said. “He gets to the ball.”
After the coaching staff considered perhaps red-shirting Behrens this season, Montgomery finally suggested, “Look Christian, Let’s just go for it.”
He’s played just 18 minutes in four games, and his ability to see more time will depend on continuing to learn the offense and staying as active as he was against Stanford.
“He was always paying attention defensively -– he was in the right place,” senior forward Harper Kamp said. “He’s a smart player, then you add the energy he came out with. That was good to see.
“When he keeps his motor going like that he can really help us.”
ABOUT THE WILDCATS: Arizona has lost four Pac-12 games by a total of 12 points. “I think they’re better than their record shows,” Kamp said. Montgomery agrees. The Wildcats are active and aggressive on defense, by far the league’s best defending the 3-point shot (allowing just 27 percent), and they present difficult matchups with a lineup featuring no player taller than 6-foot-7. That will mean a challenging night for Cal’s 6-9 freshman forward David Kravish, who will spend part of his night chasing 6-7 Jesse Perry. “Perry’s fast and mobile and mobile and not going to be in one place,” Montgomery said. “He’s going to be cutting and screening and all that stuff. So David’s going to have to use his length.”
Figure Kamp will defend 6-6 Solomon Hill and it’s likely Jorge Gutierrez will open on freshman shooting guard Nick Johnson. .”You won’t find an athlete around the country than Nick Johnson,” Montgomery said. “He can really, really jump. He’ll dunk tips, they’ll throw lobs to him.”
THE SERIES: Arizona leads 54-28. Arizona won both games last season, including a 107-105 triple-overtime victory at Berkeley. Harper Kamp played all 55 minutes and scored a career-high 33 points, while Allen Crabbe scored 27 and Jorge Gutierrez had 25. Players who scored 73 of Arizona’s 107 points are gone, counting injured junior Kevin Parrom, who had a career night with 25.
MISCELLANY: Cal sophomore Allen Crabbe practiced Wednesday after sitting out Tuesday with a protective boot on his right foot. Cal has had no comment on the situation, but the assumption is Crabbe will play against Arizona . . . Arizona’s Hill and Perry each have eight double-doubles, tied for second-most in the Pac-12 behind Colorado’s Andre Roberson (13) . . . Arizona senior G Kyle Fogg is the active Pac-12 career scoring leader with 1,132 points. Cal’s Gutierrez is third at 1,100 points. Kamp needs 47 to reach 1,000 . . . Cal is asking its fans to wear gold Thursday night to create a “Gold-Out” effect at Haas Pavilion.
Cal (17-5, 7-2 Pac-12)
|SF Allen Crabbe||6-6||So.||15.8||6.1|
|PF Harper Kamp||6-8||Sr.||9.7||5.0|
|PF David Kravish||6-9||Fr.||5.9||5.2|
|SG Jorge Gutierrez||6-3||Sr.||14.1||5.3|
|PG Justin Cobbs||6-2||So.||13.0||4.7*|
|G Brandon Smith||5-11||Jr.||3.7||2.8*|
|G Emerson Murray||6-2||So.||1.9||0.7|
|C Robert Thurman||6-10||Jr.||3.2||1.7|
Arizona (14-8, 5-4 Pac-12)
|PF Jesse Perry||6-7||Sr.||11.5||7.5|
|SF Solomon Hill||6-6||Jr.||12.6||8.3|
|SG Kyle Fogg||6-3||Sr.||12.7||2.7|
|SG Nick Johnson||6-2||Fr.||9.0||2.9|
|PG Josiah Turner||6-3||Fr.||7.3||2.2*|
|G Brendon Lavender||6-5||Sr.||4.6||1.0|
|G Jordin Mayes||6-2||So.||5.5||1.4|
|F Angelo Chol||6-9||Fr.||2.2||2.4|